Stories by Leo D'Angelo Fisher

This conference has no takers

Each year in January, a national medical equipment company holds a conference for its sales representatives. A lot is packed into the three-day conference: results presentations, new product briefings, professional development workshops, a gala dinner where awards are given out and a rousing keynote address by a motivational speaker.
The conference is held at a different venue every year, usually at some swish location such as a golf or beach resort, and spouses are invited to attend. The conference is compulsory and - except for the company diehards - most staff don't want to be there.

Written by Leo D'Angelo Fisher18 Nov. 09 22:00

Power and the passion

The global financial crisis and the contagion of faltering economies and corporate collapses that accompanied it gave rise to widespread criticism of the chief executives and senior managers whose aptitude and judgement were found wanting.
The impact of the recession may be receding sooner than feared but questions about the quality of corporate leadership remain.

Written by Leo D'Angelo Fisher20 Sept. 09 22:00

Facilitated nightmares

Believe it or not, organisations are still spending money on "facilitators" to develop leadership and team skills, affect change in corporate culture, introduce new policies and procedures, and encourage innovation and "blue-sky thinking". Place a roomful of employees in the care of a facilitator and miracles will happen.
Mediocre managers become super leaders, voiceless wallflowers are empowered and blank sheets of butcher's paper are transformed into billion-dollar ideas. Hardly. Most hapless souls forced to endure the interminable platitudes, condescension and wackery of facilitators wonder what they have done to deserve such unremitting torture.

Written by Leo D'Angelo Fisher17 Sept. 09 22:00

Cut from the middle

Although much of the public gaze is on blue-collar workers losing their jobs, they won't be the only ones to have had their lives upended. Managers, executives and professionals are also in the firing line as the economy free falls and business leaders lose their nerve.
Recruitment consultants report hearing from unusually large numbers of out-of-work middle managers.

Written by Leo D'Angelo Fisher21 March 09 23:00

Resolve to survive

It is both a custom and a natural human impulse at this time to
reflect on the year that was and to commit to certain life changes in

Written by Leo D'Angelo Fisher17 Jan. 09 22:00

When innovators stumble

A report on global innovation trends reveals a huge gap in companies' ability to be innovative. The survey of 261 executives worldwide - published by the Economist Intelligence Unit in its report, "The Innovators: How successful companies drive business transformation" - found that 70 per cent of companies consider innovation to be critical or important to maintaining their competitiveness, but that it is easier for some than others. The EIU reports that 90 per cent of the top-performing companies describe themselves as successful or very successful at pushing innovation in new-product development, but only 33 per cent of the less successful firms do so.
Similarly, 88 per cent of the most successful companies succeed at pushing customer service innovation, compared to only 36 per cent of less successful firms. Some 60 per cent of survey respondents report a shortfall of ideas in their innovation pipeline, which was attributed to resistance to change, shifting strategic priorities and a lack of project ownership. The report can be downloaded free at

Written by Leo D'Angelo Fisher19 Oct. 08 22:00

Rise of the anti-manager

Where have all the good managers gone? The Peter Principle has long been a fact of corporate life - the statistical inevitability that in any organisation there will always be a group of people who are promoted beyond their competence.
But now the happenstance Peter Principle has become the Peter Prerequisite: somewhere along the line, incompetence has become a mandatory requirement for appointment to positions of responsibility, and that applies all the way up to mahogany row. It is difficult to fathom how this can be. Despite the fashion for psychometric testing, performance evaluations and myriad human resources systems, ill-advised appointments and poor management abound. Or should that be because of?

Written by Leo D'Angelo Fisher17 Sept. 08 22:00

Inside the war rooms of today's networked enterprises

Sam Riley is not a technology whiz, but he has an eye for a business opportunity. Andrew Slavin is a technology whiz, but has no interest in running his own business. It was a mismatch made in heaven, and the result was the formation of Ansarada, a company that provides virtual online data rooms.
Virtual data rooms are based on secure technology that enables parties from anywhere in the world to exchange sensitive information online.

Written by Leo D'Angelo Fisher21 July 08 22:00

The new work order

Martin Whittaker has a credo: The secret to business success is to "attract, retain and develop" good people. Whittaker is not a human resources wonk. He is chief executive of listed industrial services company Thomas & Coffey, which employs 1000 people, mostly in trades.
Amid record low unemployment and a near crippling skills shortage, Whittaker wants his managers to "think ARD" and is prepared to tear up his company's employment manuals and start again if that's what it takes to attract and retain scarce talent.

Written by Leo D'Angelo Fisher27 May 08 22:00

Leading from the front

Deloitte Australia's chief executive for the past five years, Giam Swiegers, is familiar with most of the theories about essential qualities of successful corporate leadership. But they are not for him.
"Leadership is more practical than abstract," Swiegers says. "My interest has always been to understand what leaders do to produce positive outcomes and at the end of the day it's the really simple things that work."

Written by Leo D'Angelo Fisher25 March 08 23:00

Sell, sell, sell

Gerry Harvey says he hasn't personally sold any whitegoods at his Harvey Norman stores in 20 years, but Australia's richest retailer remains a salesman at heart. The co-founder and executive chairman of the listed electrical goods and furniture retailer believes being a salesman is a state of mind.
"Am I still a salesman? If you mean selling fridges on the floor, no, I stopped doing that a long time ago," he says. "But if you mean being involved with the business and getting my hands dirty - I do that. I never forget who I am, and that is a hands-on sort of person."

Written by Leo D'Angelo Fisher13 Nov. 07 22:00